Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Super heat wave in Alberta, so what outdoor adventure makes the most sense? Taking the canoe out, of course! We had been by Vermillion Lakes once before and realized the only way to really experience its beauty is being on the water.
We plan to leave at 10am. I run an errand that has me home around 9:15am and Terry informs me he can't find the essential strap for ensuring the car holds the canoe securely. We split up and continue searching. Still no dice. I let my fingers do the walking and go online to see if a store nearby has it. The closest Canadian Tire does not but a different one across town has five in stock. We decide it's also time to get the kids life vests that fit (last year they were under 90lb, if only barely) so I grab Alex for trying them on if there are different sizes and we set off. To make a painful story shorter, there were zero of this strap in stock. How? I dunno. It's still tender when I think about it. With Alex in the car I wasn't doing anything other than heading home and regrouping.
We decide on the next best thing - find a beach! Many of the lakes and rivers around here are glacial or otherwise deadly to try to swim in so we find one that's 1.5 hours away, and should be tolerable to immerse in. We re-pack for swimming rather than canoeing, and off we go!
Ninety minutes later it's the worst, most crowded beach "strip" area and zero parking within the ZIP code. We can see the beach and it is wall-to-wall people there too. It's also past lunch. Grumpiness all around. We drive past all that, find a place to pull over and figure out our options. There's a Provincial Park up the road with a campground! At the very least we can expect a day use area with picnic tables. Off we go!
After lunch we're all feeling a bit better. Checking the map, there is definitely water nearby - the only question is whether there is a way down to it. After a couple of fits and starts, heading the wrong direction and righting ourselves, we find the water! There's no beach, the hill basically ends a couple of feet before the water begins, but there's a bit of dry space for our stuff and a few other groups of people along this "shoreline" to proclaim that this is a legitimate access point.
Unfortunate for our late start, we could only stay a couple of hours. The water was pretty chilly despite being probably the warmest beach around - Zoltan kept getting blue lips and we had to make him get out and warm up. But we splashed around, swam a bit, and looked for rocks in every color of the rainbow. And although she'll deny ever saying this, even Alex had fun.
Saturday, June 26, 2021
Just today, we pulled up a bunch of radishes partly because they were ready and partly because dinner called for them and we didn't have any (oops). The one on the bottom right is the biggest radish I think we've ever grown. Some salad greens are also ready to pick.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Something I have pretty much never done before - taken a random day off from work to do something fun! A friend was celebrating her 50th birthday and wanted to do a hike followed by a lunch with a view.
Lake Louise view from the trail
Lake Agnes lies above Lake Louise (you also pass Mirror Lake on the way up) and you start the hike from the Fairmont Lake Louise. Several other popular hikes start from here, and the parking can be impossible on weekends and/or in summer. Thus, a weekday before schools let out was the perfect time.We also had the perfect weather, bright and sunny but not too warm.
While sitting on a bench at Lake Agnes, soaking in the view, a very cheeky chipmunk scampered onto the bench right next to me ... then into my lap! I held my breath while mentally telling the chipmunk "please don't bite me"... when I did not immediately put food in its mouth it scampered back off. Whew!
We finished the hike at the Fairmont, with lunch on the patio overlooking the lake. Somehow I took no photos there but be assured it was stunning. The water is still the same turquoise blue that Alex swears is a result of dye.
Three hikes in one week! Woooot!
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
As said before, the family vetoes hikes with an incline. So, a little nervous about the possibility of bears, I clutched by bear spray tightly and embarked on one of the most popular hikes in the area: Prairie Mountain. I can see why folks love it - it is only an hour outside of Calgary and 7km round trip. It also covers 700m of elevation, or nearly 2300 feet, of elevation in that time. It is not for the faint of heart.
I tried my best to take many beautiful photos and they all look fake. They also don't nearly capture the view. This happens when all you have is a crappy phone camera because your husband, who wields the fancy (and heavy!) camera, decides not to join.
Moose and mountains, is there a better way to spend a day?
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Monday, June 7, 2021
We enjoyed the fall trip to Dinosaur so much we decided we wanted to spend a night or two by the hoodoos. Through determination and perseverance normally only seen when scoring concert tickets, we were able to secure the very last campsite for the dates we wanted.
Saturday promised to be a beautiful day, but first we had to get out the door! Camp-car-packing Tetris plus grouchy teens and tweens who would have preferred a weekend on the couch meant tempers ran medium-high. But on the road we got, and after a relatively uneventful drive (although we did see a fox sauntering across a field, as well as many examples of future delicious Alberta steaks enjoying their best lives on pasture) made our way to the camp site. We all went into default mode with the kids getting their tent up then inflating everyone's mattresses, pitching pillows and sleeping bags into the right places while Terry and I figured out the new tent. The hammer went back and forth as everyone worked to pound the stakes in. By the time everything was up and staked it was lunch time!
After lunch the kids had the commandment to do some hiking then they can read, play, or whatever else. Alex took off like a rocket, Zoltan decided he'd rather stay with the adults. And exploring we went. Our goals were to climb hoodoos, take pictures, and - for Terry and me - get enough steps for our different step challenge teams to not be embarrassments. We each ended the day around 18,000 so I guess we succeeded. We also played a heated game of animal, vegetable, mineral where each of us managed the stump the other two. Zoltan's mineral was molybdenum, which just goes to show you that there is real education to be found in childrens' literature.
Over dinner the first night, we were discussing the major exciting features of the new tent and Alex mentioned the large entryway so I supplied the correct word "vestibule" but she didn't hear me correctly and though I said "vegetable" so now there is a "vegetable" half open to the world just outside the sleeping part of our tent.
The second day we were all sleep-deprived because camping is loud and light. We checked out a different section of hoodoos as well as the canoe launch in case we ever wanted to come back for a float. We cooked hot dogs for lunch and with the value of hindsight cooked food was probably not the best idea for the hottest day ever (around 75 degrees Fahrenheit). In the afternoon we could barely stay comfortable laying in the shade. Then Terry had a brilliant idea: the concession stand. Dinosaur Park actually has a concession stand, cafe, and in non-COVID times a whole little museum.
We wandered over and everyone got various ice creams but I got a Slushie. Totally refreshing!
We saw numerous mule deer - a couple coming close to our campsite. We saw a robin's nest relatively low in a tree, low enough I could see the robin sitting on the eggs - the little head poking just above the edge of the nest. We saw a parent bird make many trips in and out of a hole in the tree by our camp site and when we got close we could hear the "cheep" of baby birds. No prairie dogs, which we have consistently seen in the mountains and never in the prairie.